Friday, October 14, 2011

Harvard's Undergraduate Council 'will only be equipped to address sexual assault adequately' when half its members are women

From the Harvard Crimson: ". . . sexual assault is a perennial issue on college campuses, and the [Undergraduate Council] will only be equipped to begin to address this issue adequately when women, victim to an overwhelming majority of these incidents, are given an equal voice."

The Crimson writer acknowledges that "[s]ome female UC representatives have expressed that they do not 'think that an imbalanced gender ratio would affect their experience or the effectiveness of the UC.' Although we do not dispute the ability of these women to make significant contributions as members of a minority group on the UC, we respectfully disagree . . . ."

Of all the reasons we've heard for the sexual assault problem on campus, this is among the most outlandish. It is a regrettable barometer of our times that a blatantly sexist suggestion such as this --that only women can adequately address sexual assault -- also happens to be politically correct.

I am not aware of any serious voice that applauds the fact that governing bodies of any kind are lopsided in favor of males. Neither am I aware of any valid justification for imposing quotas on governing bodies based on gender, any more than I am aware of a valid justification for imposing quotas based on race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

More to the point, precisely what isn't being done at Harvard to address sexual assault that having more women on the Undergraduate Council would change? 

What policy initiatives haven't been tried, for example, to boost purported underreporting?

The writer doesn't say, because the writer can't say.  The suggestion was just another easily-mouthed cliche of gender political correctness.  Let's discuss reality.

The Dept. of Education's OCR handed down a detailed directive last April that makes it much easier to hold both offenders and innocent men responsible for claims of sexual abuse. What would more women on the Undergraduate Council suggest in addition to that most draconian of executive fiats to help nab more rapists and innocent men?

Has Harvard not devoted sufficient resources to the problem?  Would having more women on the Undergraduate Council cause even more resources to be devoted to the problem?  In fact, the resources dedicated to this problem at Harvard, as well as at most large institutions of higher learning, are enormous. Harvard has an Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response exclusively dedicated to the problem. That office, and schools within the University, offer a variety of written materials, workshops, and other activities to promote awareness of the seriousness of sexual offenses, including rape, acquaintance rape, and indecent assault and battery. An organization called Harvard Men Against Rape involves men in the "solution" to problems relating to sexual assault. Harvard offers counseling services, including peer counseling and religious counseling, medical assistance, and legal guidance for persons who claim they have been victimized by sexual assault.

Many serious observers have persuasively argued that such expenditures are overkill.  Heather MacDonald called the "campus rape crisis" a "crisis that doesn't exist."  A writer for Pittsburgh demonstrated the dishonesty in anti-rape advocacy statistics by using their own (inflated) 90% underreporting figure (RAINN uses a 60% figure) to prove that, for example, the one-in-four stat is a lie: One-in-One-Thousand-Eight-Hundred-Seventy-Seven.  None of it is intended to trivialize the very real victimhood of women who've been raped.

The fact is, over the past 35 years, there has been an avalanche of reforms, in our laws, in our public policies, and on our campuses, to make reporting of, and punishing men and boys for, alleged rape easier and easier. Men accused of rape are now denied certain rights that persons accused of other crimes are routinely afforded, a fact that fair-minded people regard as an assault on liberties most Americans formerly cherished. And all manner of other effort has been undertaken to eradicate rape -- from "walk a mile in her shoes," to "take back the night," to slutwalks, to paid speakers shaming college men to not be "bystanders," and on and on it goes.

And, like clockwork, every autumn, a new crop of eager college students arrives, thinking they've just stumbled upon a new crisis--and they pen earnest anti-rape articles for their college papers that could have been cribbed from articles written by college students in the 70s or 80s.

But, we are told, none of it has ever worked. Despite all the reforms, all the money, all the rallies, all the college newspaper articles -- the sexual grievance industry continues to insist there is still massive underreporting of rape and that rape is still an "epidemic" on campus.

Yet the Crimson has the naiveté to suggest that adding women to the Undergraduate Council is what's needed to change it.*

In a world where gender differences didn't matter, there would be more women on undergraduate councils, running corporations, working in dangerous coal mines, and sitting in prison.  There would be more men teaching and raising our children and living to be as old as the women. That's a subject for others better versed in these issues.

But we are quite confident of one thing: there is no basis to believe that giving women "an equal voice" on Harvard's Undergraduate Council will do anything to affect the sexual assault problem on campus.

*In fact, the problem isn't as great as we are led to believe, and the persons charged with addressing it have an economic incentive to perpetuate it.